Breast milk oversupply can cause a host of complications, not the least of which is discomfort. Leaking breasts can be a substantial inconvenience, and an overactive letdown can leave little ones with an upset tummy. On the more severe end, oversupply and accompanying engorgement can lead to mastitis as a result of improperly drained milk ducts. Midwives and lactation consultants recommend several key herbs to naturally dry up breast milk.
Peppermint and spearmint have long been suggested for use in decreasing milk supply. According to international board-certified lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata of kellymom.com, the mint found in most teas, candies and cookies is too weak to have a noticeable impact on milk supply unless consumed in massive quantity. For best results, it's important to use peppermint essential oil, which offers a concentrated version of the mint's potency. Select food grade peppermint essential oil and use it added to hot water for mint tea, to top vanilla ice cream or to make your own mint cookies and candies.
Sage is another herb lactating women are encouraged to avoid if they do not wish to decrease milk production. If you are looking to dry up your milk supply, however, include plenty of sage into your daily diet. Sage mixes well with many foods such as chicken, rice, potatoes and sauces. You can also make an herbal tea from sage. Add 8 to 10 teaspoons of either fresh or dried sage leaves to one quart of boiling water and allow to steep for 45 minutes. Flavor with honey or lemon and enjoy five to six cups per day.
Though not an herbal remedy, a compress made from green cabbage leaves can also help relieve swelling and discomfort from engorgement. Cabbage leaves are thought to help draw out fluid from swollen areas of the body. Place one cold cabbage leaf into each side of your bra. Keep it in as long as you like, and replace with fresh leaves each day.
Decreasing milk supply takes a minimum of a few days in most cases, but it can also take weeks or even months to cease milk production altogether. While waiting for your body to adjust to decreased milk demands, there are some things you can do to make yourself more comfortable. An over-the-counter pain reliever like aspirin or ibuprofen can help if your breasts are sore and tender. Wear a supportive bra, and use an ice pack if necessary. You can also try hand expressing a little milk to relieve immediate pressure as your body transitions.